In its early years, Festival of Sharing was called the Bishop’s Convocation. It was planned by United Methodists in Missouri and held at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Trowbridge Livestock arena. The day involved the gathering of various kits and food for the hungry and the distribution of live animals and blankets to outside organizations such as Heifer Project International (Now Heifer International) and Church World Service.
One year, the convocation welcomed a unique guest speaker. American country comedian, Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, more professionally known as Minnie Pearl, performed and spoke for the 1,500 attendees. Wearing her infamous yellow straw hat, Minnie Pearl spoke of Grinders Switch, the mythical place where she lived and where there was no sickness, poverty, and where you mostly worried about what you were going to wear to the church social. After her performance, Sarah stepped out of the persona to share the story of her career, faith in God, and concern for those less fortunate in the world. Her time and travel for the performance that day was donated as charity. She spoke of being a Methodist herself and the importance for people in show business to pay their dues through charity performances. Later in the day, attendees took up a collection and purchased a heifer to be named Minnie Pearl and donated in her honor.
Having an iconic performer join the Bishop’s Convocation (later known as Festival of Sharing), both in terms of entertainment and as a witness of faith, is a special moment in our program’s history. Sarah was respected by communities in and out of country music and was instrumental in the history of Music City U.S.A. (Nashville, TN) and the Grand Ole Opry. We appreciate her acts as a United Methodist laywoman and celebrate the trail she blazed for female entertainers.
Drummond, B. (n.d.). Minnie Pearl tells of simple pleasures. Columbia Missourian.
Moore, B. (2019, September 13). Meet Minnie Pearl: Legendary and unifying force. The Boot, https://theboot.com/who-is-minnie-pearl/
The 2020 Festival of Sharing Quilt Auction will look different this year. That seems to be the theme with many other things in life right now. What was originally planned to be a hybrid model auction-with some quilts being featured in online and some in-person- has now moved fully to an online auction. There's a first time for everything!
While we will definitely miss displaying and admiring the quilts in person, the quilt auction committee is grateful for this safe alternative and excited for the opportunity to expand our reach. By moving online, we can share the auction site with more friends near and far who will be able to view and bid the quilts in their own time and space.
So how does it work?
Bidding will open at 8 a.m. CST on Nov. 5 and close at 11:59 p.m. CST on Nov. 14, 2020. Quilt photos, details, and bidding information can be found at benefitbidding.com/festivalofsharing. The proceeds of the online auction will still support the work of the Church World Service (CWS) Blanket program. As we see the ways CWS is responding during the pandemic and natural disasters of 2020, we are reminded of the impact our gifts and auction contributions can make.
What will I need to participate?
Access to the internet, whether that's through a phone, computer, or tablet, and an email address. When you find the quilt that's just right for you, all you have to do is click "Bid on This Item Now" and if you're new, it will take you to a registration page where you can enter your name and email or phone number. Make sure to select how you want to receive notifications so you can stay up-to-date on the items you're interested in.
I submitted the winning bid. Now what?
Congrats and thank you! If you have the winning bid on a quilt(s), you will be notified of the total amount due. At that time, you will enter your credit card information and let us know if you want your items to be shipped, or if you will pick them up (3601 Amron Ct, Columbia, MO 65202). Please give us a few days to process the quilts and prepare them for shipping/pick up. You will be notified by email when your quilt is ready!
Volunteering helps you get to know the organizations in your community. You may also discover resources and activities to use with your own family or friends.
Volunteering can help you make new friends and contacts.If you’re new to the community or are looking to meet people with common interests, volunteering is a great way to socialize and make new friends with common interests.
Don’t forget the health benefits!Doing good and being in community with others can boost your self-confidence, fight stress, depression and will keep you physically active.
You can learn job skills and provide career experience.Depending on the location or service, volunteering may require you to use communication, organization, time management, teamwork and other valuable skills.
Bring fun and fulfillment to your life.Use the opportunity to explore your interests or passion and break up your everyday routine. You may find it will fuel your creativity, motivations, and vision that impact your personal and professional life.
How do you find the right volunteering opportunity?
Ask yourself a few questions.
Do you prefer working alone or on a team? Do you enjoy behind the scenes work or more visible roles? How much time are you willing to commit? What causes are important to you? What skills could you bring to the opportunity?
Consider several possibilities.
Request to visit organizations to see what the environment and staff/volunteers are like.
Volunteers are needed in all kinds of places!
Libraries, senior/community centers, service organizations (Rotary Clubs), animal shelters or rescue organizations, community theaters or museums
Volunteering and its surprising benefits. (n.d.). Help Guide. Retrieved March 30, 2020 from
Benefits of community service. (n.d.). Western Connecticut State University. Retrieved March 30, 2020
Take a look at the Sharefest’s event page before you arrive.
On the event page you’ll find a detailed schedule, information on social distancing and hand hygiene, and a link to register. The individual event pages can be found at festivalofsharing.org/sharefests.
Bring a reusable water bottle.
Festival of Sharing is taking steps to be more environmentally friendly and we need your help! Staying hydrated is important for any Sharefest participant.
Dress for the weather.
Most of our activities take place outside as long as the weather isn’t severe. And if we’re being real, it’s Missouri, so you should probably bring a jacket, sunscreen and an umbrella. Don't forget your mask in 2020!
Invite your friends!
Our events are free and open to the public for kids of all ages. While in 2020 we will be limiting the activities due to safety concerns, we typically have activities for our friends who can sit, stand, sort, lift, count, organize and more. Please stay tuned for 2021 when we can hopefully incorporate our activities back into the Sharefest days!
Prepare your heart.
The day will be full of joy, fellowship, and hard work. We do all of this for the opportunity to serve our neighbors and glorify God.
By Sidney Owens
Near the end of winter each year, Festival of Sharing begins sorting and preparing garden seeds for distribution to a list of community gardens around Missouri. Copy paper boxes line multiple tables as volunteers go down the row dropping a few of each type of seed in a box. The result: about a 10-pound mixture of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flower seeds in each box. Occasionally you will find a really unique seed like a lemon cucumber, but most of the time you see your common garden plants such as green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, watermelon, and so on. Seeds are one of my favorite parts of our ministry. As a gardener myself, I appreciate the opportunity to raise and care for my own food. It is so exciting to see those boxes full of seeds that families or garden clubs are going to work together on and enjoy for the next several months.
This year, our seeds went out at the end of February when most people were still experiencing the cold Missouri weather. Recently, I reconnected with our seed recipients to see if they were able to plant anything between the pandemic and wet weather. While some seeds are awaiting planting, others filled a gap presented by COVID-19. Because of an abundance of seed donations in 2019, we were able to provide our state’s Cultivating Restorative Justice Gardens program with two boxes of seeds, which supported their 19 locations across the state. Offenders in the correctional centers work in the gardens and then donate the produce to local food banks, shelters, and schools. As the pandemic began, some of the food banks these gardens support saw 40% increases in new clients seeking food relief. With these seeds the gardens can increase their produce donations at a time when food resources are greatly needed.
One church who received seeds was not able to proceed with their community garden as originally planned but distributed the seeds among their congregation and encouraged home gardening during quarantine. This helped fill a gap for young adults who live alone and are under or unemployed during this time. One member of a Master Gardner group has a greenhouse with many vegetable plants started and awaiting the perfect conditions to be moved outside. The produce from these plants will also be shared with local food banks.
While we are adjusting to new ways of life and processing the different emotions involved with this experience, hope is growing. In peoples’ backyards, on their porches, in green houses, and in correctional facilities. Food is a basic need and without it comes fear and anxiety. It is a blessing to know that what started out as a typical ministry has grown into something that will fill a gap during this extraordinary time. We are thankful for the ways in which God uses our gifts and the talent of gardeners across Missouri to grow hope and security.